I’ve been really Bizzy in my kitchen lately.  A friend and co-worker was having a house warming party, and after helping her with the menu (um, fyi – sandwiches from California Pizza Kitchen for 40 people was going to cost $400!).

While her mom and sister were helping with some dishes, I shopped, cooked and prepared six appetizers.

  •  baja fresh salsa with fresh homemade tortilla chips
  • mini reuben bites
  • mini cheddar drop biscuit ham and cheese sammies (biscuit recipe below)
  • chicken pesto meatballs in a diablo marinara sauce
  • mini twice baked potato bites (recipe below)
  • bruschetta with homemade garlic crisps (recipe below)

One thing I noticed when I was cooking for someone else?  I hardly took any pictures, and lost a few that I did take somehow!   Somehow two of the six apps survived:

Mini Cheese Drop Biscuit Ham and Cheese Sammies

for the biscuit

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk is fine too)
  • 1 stick of melted butter (yep!)

This is truly simple because you put all the dry ingredients on the bottom, then add the milk and butter, and stir until just combined.  Set your oven at 450.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring spoon, and then divided that mixture in half to get the tiny sized biscuits I wanted.

While this sounded like an easy appetizer, making 100+ biscuits, then letting them cool, then carefully cutting them in half and building a ham, provolone, lettuce and spicy mustard sammie together was quite time consumming!

I don’t have any really big containers either, but discovered that the Dollar Tree has these aluminum pans with lids for $1 each – some were deeper than others, but it worked perfectly.

 Another appetizer that was simple, yet time consumming, was the mini potato bites:

Mini Potato Bites for a Crowd

  • 6 pounds of baby yellow golden potatoes
  • 1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped
  • drizzle olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • green onion for garnish

Slice each potato in half, and using a teaspoon, scoop out the inside of the potato, careful not to cut through the skin.  Cut a tiny slice off the bottom of each potato so it lays flat on your baking pan.  Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 for one hour. 

Once they were cooled, I sprinkled with the bacon and cheddar cheese, and at the party I reheated them in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, then finished them off under the broiler for a couple minutes.  Then garnished with sour cream and green onions.

Just an fyi, coring out six pounds of potatoes takes a long time – I think it took me about an hour just to do that!  But they were delicious!

I was worried there wasn’t going to be enough food, but it turned out perfectly.  But I’ve realized I think I would lose my love of cooking quickly if I ever catered again – helping out a friend once is nice, but I don’t think I’ll do it again.

Best part though?  My food cost, including the boxes from the Dollar Tree . . . $91.72!  Here is how I saved money – for the chicken pesto meatballs I ground my own meat and was able to score boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.29 a pound.

I made my own tortilla chips – my store sells fresh corn tortillas, 10 in a package, for .25 cents.  I ended up making 320 tortilla chips for $2.  It just took a while to deep fry them, but everyone loved them.

For my crostini that went with the bruscetta, Jimmy John’s sells their 12 inch day old bread for .50 a loaf.  I picked up 4 loaves for $2.07, and ended up making 200 crostini – I made a mixture of melted butter, garlic and Italian seasoning, brushed over the top of each slice and baked at 350 for 10 minutes.

By the time I got home the last think I wanted to do was cook, so Tony and I ordered a pizza.  We had enough box tops saved to get 50% off any pizza, so we decided to go with the Chicago style deep dish.  Only catch was I had to pick it up.

So I call, make the order, and about 30 minutes later I go pick up the pizza, but they don’t have my order.  I was like “they told me it was going to be $11 with the 50% box tops, and that it would be ready in 35 minutes.”  Still they have no record.  I call Tony, he texts me the number I called which turns out to be . . . the pizza place 1/2 a mile away!

I was so embarrassed!  So I go to the place I actually ordered from, and apparently they have the same box top coupon deal too – only my box tops are not from them.  When I told her that, she took the box tops, threw them away and gave us our pizza for $11!  And she said “you’ll probably like our pizza better!”

It was a good pizza, but Tony and I just watched America’s test kitchen make a true Chicago deep dish pizza – and that is the next pizza on our list to make – hopefully next weekend!

Week 2 Holiday Challenge

I only worked out 3 times last week, and towards the end of the week with Tony’s birthday (and pecan pie) I ended up being up .2.  And this weekend with constantly tasting the food I was making, deep dish pizza and another slice of pecan pie last night, I really need to focus the rest of this week.

How was your week?  Anyone have an achievement to share, or does anyone need some extra cheering?

I am meeting my Mom for lunch to celebrate her birthday today – not sure where we are going – we thought Bonefish (love their bang bang shrimp!) but they aren’t open for lunch.  We’ll see!

Enjoy your Sunday – I plan on staying in 1st place in the football pool with Tony, my step-son and his friend. 😀